Evolving Tech Trends in Small and Medium Enterprises

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London — Oct. 24

Adoption of new technologies such as tablets, social media and cloud computing is expected to transform the small and medium enterprise landscape within the next year, according to new research by CompTIA, the global IT trade association.

The research offers insights into the business opportunities for IT service providers and the new challenges that IT departments will face as IT becomes a more critical part of running the business.

Forecasts of Increased Cloud Cover
The research shows that 18 percent of U.K. small and medium enterprises are now using cloud products, and a further 30 percent plan to introduce them during the next year. Almost all (93 percent) of those using them found the transition easy and 79 percent found results positive. Furthermore, 81 percent expect to increase their cloud usage during the next two years.

However small and medium enterprises still voice the usual concerns about security (50 percent), reliability of cloud provider (30 percent), Internet connections (27 percent), and lack understanding of the cloud model (26 percent).

This indicates significant opportunities for providers of cloud services. If cloud is to continue its successful growth, providers will need to work closely with IT departments to explain cloud services and provide ongoing support to ensure these concerns are addressed.

More Tablets, More Side Effects
Part of the move to the cloud will be driven by the uptake of tablets, which benefit from the remote access cloud provides. Thirty-seven percent of small and medium enterprises already have tablets and another 37 percent plan on purchasing them, meaning it will be a prevalent business tool within the year.

Most current usage is simply taking advantage of their convenience, with the majority planning to use tablets for work while traveling, presentations and note taking. However a significant proportion are looking at using them for specific business purposes, such as demonstrating a product (34 percent) or point-of-sale transactions (32 percent).

Only 5 percent of small and medium enterprises have purchased tablets to replace PCs or smartphones. It seems likely that a three-device system will become the norm in most enterprises in the near future.

“Tablets will open new challenges for IT staff, as employees use them outside work,” said Seth Robinson, CompTIA’s director, technology analysis, who conducted the research. “Tablets can get infections from home networks, which can spread to the corporate network. Support for tablets’ closed hardware system is different to that of PCs or laptops. These and other issues will need to be considered by the IT department in building a mobile device management policy.”

Social Media Helping to Communicate
At 26 percent, social media has the highest adoption rate among emerging technologies, with 61 percent of respondents saying they have seen a positive return on social media investment. Eighty-one percent of firms have a social strategy, which correlated with those who thought social media had proven beneficial.

The most common uses of social media are marketing-related, such as brand awareness and communicating with customers, while 22 percent are using social media to monitor information and better understand market dynamics.

While social media has had tangible benefits, 49 percent of companies not using it see no clear benefit, despite nearly half of those saying improved communication with customers would be beneficial. IT departments can help their companies understand the benefits by developing clear case studies of social media success.

Not-So-Green IT
Green IT had the lowest adoption rate, at 12 percent, despite relatively easy adoption, though a significantly higher number of companies plan on using it soon (26 percent).

“Technology trends change from year to year,” Robinson said. “Technologies that were on the fringe a year ago are now becoming an important part of business, whilst others which seemed about to take hold have shown a slower adoption.”

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